Chad Grayson

Congratulations I’m Sorry

As the year ends, I find myself in a time of transition.

Some things are good. Great, even. On December 5th, which was the first anniversary of our first date, my boyfriend, Jimmy, and I had brunch at the same place we’d first met a year ago. He’d invited my mom and dad to join us. And after we’d eaten, he asked me to marry him. I said yes, of course. He was crying. I was crying. My mom was crying. It was a whole thing. So, now we’re planning a wedding, which we are thinking will be next fall.

It’s been a long road to get here. Before a couple of years ago, I had never pictured myself in an actual relationship with a man, much less marrying one. It’s a complicated issue. I’ve been gay my entire life, but that was just physical, I thought. Also, I didn’t have a lot of examples either in media or my own life of happy gay couples. It never even occurred to me that it was possible. Over the course of the last couple of years, and especially since my previous marriage ended, I did imagine it. Dreamed of it, even. I spent four years on the dating apps, and let me tell you that was rough. I got ghosted so many times you wouldn’t even believe it. If not outright rejected. Also catfished, which was fun.

But I don’t regret any of that because it was how I ultimately found Jimmy. From the beginning, I knew that he was different. He texted back, for one thing. We took our relationship slow (although I did introduce him to my family after two weeks, which I have to admit was not slow). We got to know each other over time, neither of us pushing the other into anything we weren’t ready for. On March 3rd, I realized that I’d fallen in love with him. I didn’t tell him that for another couple of months because it was, frankly, none of his business. In April he moved in with me and we made plans to buy my house together. He gave me a promise ring in June. And we’ve been low-key planning our ‘hypothetical’ wedding ever since. So, when he asked me to marry him, I had only one response. ‘It would be the greatest honor of my life.’ And I mean that. I love him and I’m thrilled to be his, and that he is mine. I never thought I could have this. The fact that it’s happening at 50 is another surprise, but I’ll take it.

My parents and my kids love him, as do my grandkids, so that makes things easier. We’re not young, by any means, but we have a lot of good years in front of us, and it makes me happy knowing that I’m going to be spending them with him. I’m excited to get married, yes, but I’m more excited about the person I get to marry. I think that’s a good sign.

Also this month, I decided to go back to school. Our local community college offers a digital art and design certificate that can be completed in two semesters. It entails a great many things, including graphic design, and I would like to be able to do my own formatting and design work, as well as design my own book covers. If I get good at it, maybe I can even do it for other people. We’ll see how far my talents take me. So, next semester I will be taking between 11 and 14 units, depending on how some things shake out. This led me to a realization about some other things.

I have worked at the Cottonwood Community Library as a volunteer since 2009. It gave me a safe place to put myself black together after my former career fell apart, and I will always be grateful for that. Now, volunteering at the library is not like volunteering at other organizations. Volunteers are the staff. The only one who gets paid is the director. I’m not really certain that’s a good business model, but it is a community library, receiving no state or county money. So, really, it’s the only way they can run.

But I’ve long started to feel like my time at the library was coming to a close. I’m not interested in the same type of books our patrons are interested in, which is fine, but it made me feel like I just really wasn’t in sync with the people I was serving. Also, the library isn’t used by very many people. We would consider ourselves very busy if we had 12 people in a three-hour shift. So, I l had the sense I wasn’t really providing a vital community service. And while it is true that I will not be in school on Saturdays, and could conceivably still work my weekly shift, I feel that I’m going to need Saturday as a writing day. So, I told the director I needed a leave of absence while I was in school.

This was not well received. It got ugly. So, I quit effective immediately. They even called the police to make sure I returned my keys. It would have been nice if the people I had been working with would have thanked me for my fourteen years of service and wished me well in my new endeavor, but I guess that was too much to ask for.

I’m a little sad about the way things ended, but I am not sad that they ended. I was ready to do something else. I put a lot of time and energy into that place over the years. I thought it was appreciated, but I guess it really wasn’t, which is a little hard to deal with. But that’s just how things are sometimes. I’m not sure how much longer the library will keep going. Fundraising has been a problem as has recruiting and retaining volunteers. I wonder why. I think the community could be doing a lot more to support it if they really value it, but it is no longer any of my concern. I do wish them well, however. They’ll have to find someone else to call when the network goes down.

So, as 2023 winds down and I get ready for 2024, I’m looking forward to new challenges. I still plan on writing 30,000 words a month and I have my schedule set to do this. I don’t want to fall behind on my books. But another friend has cautioned me that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself if I find my transition back into being a full-time student a more difficult one than I am imagining. We’ll see. I should be done with the program next December if all goes well. I’m really looking forward to learning a new set of skills.

So right now, I’m happy about the future and a little sad about the way some things have ended. I think that adequately describes life. Congratulations I’m sorry. It’s better than a lot of the alternatives.

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